A secret history of Indiana pie

December 24, 2010

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(Flickr/Sarah Stierch)
Sugar cream pie from the Locally Grown Gardens farmer's market in Indianapolis.
As you bake the final sweets of this holiday season you may want to consider a recipe from our neighbor to the southeast. Boston cream pie may have found its way into our shared dessert lexicon, but what about Hoosier cream pie? Or Indiana persimmon pie?
 
I was unfamiliar with these regional treats until I heard this lecture by pastry chef Paula Haney. Haney has cultivated a devoted following in Chicago with her perfect pies - lemon chess; pork, sage and apple; lattice topped blueberry - since founding Hoosier Mama Pie Company in 2005.  (Her breakfast special, a cup of coffee and a slice of pie, makes any winter morning better.) But here, Haney unveils the secret history of Indiana pies, from the Amish inspired “desperation pies” of her Indianapolis youth, to pies made from exotic native fruits like the wild American persimmon, paw paw, and custard apple. In the audio excerpt posted above, Haney goes into the delicious history the sugar cream or Hoosier cream pie, Indiana’s official state pie as of 2009. (According to Haney, at the time of this lecture there was heated debate between the sugar cream camp and the persimmon custard camp.)
 
Click here to hear the rest of Haney's talk, including a section about the South Side’s endangered pie species, the bean pie. If you want a taste of Indiana's official pie, Hoosier Mama carries it in their West Town shop. Or, you can go on a pie pilgrimage and follow the Hoosier Pie Trail! Better yet, make your own, using a recipe like this one from Turkey Creek Lane.
 
Dynamic Range showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified's vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Haney’s talk was presented by The Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, a program of the Culinary Historians of Chicago, and was recorded by Chicago Amplified. Click here to subscribe to the Dynamic Range podcast.